Bright sunlight flooded Zoltar’s eyes, blinding him momentarily as the Wind Talon guard opened the door.
“Zoltar,” Felistia cried upon seeing the Shadow Talon entire the room. The Ice Talon jumped off the rock platform she’d been resting on and rushed over to him, “You’re alright.”
Zoltar beamed and bumped wings with her affectionately, “Of course I am.”
He looked up, his eyes meeting with Emerald’s sapphire blue ones. She was sitting on the ledge of one of the three windows lining the back wall, her scales a delicate mix of light purples and pistachio greens.
She smiled at him, but didn’t get to say anything as Shiraku grumbled, “Welcome back, Zoltar. Took you long enough.”
The Sea Talon was standing to his right by a stone platform, her webbed talons soaking in a large bowl of water.
“We’ve been stuck in this room for ages,” She continued, wiping her turquoise snout with her dripping wet paws, “and all I have to keep my scales hydrated is this pathetic looking soup bowl. It’s not like I need the ocean. I’d kill for anything larger than my head, even a pond would do.”
“Oh Shiraku,” Emerald crooned mockingly, “I don’t think even a lake could fit that whining snout of yours.”
Shiraku scowled at the Wisp Talon and bared her fangs, “Why you…”
“Dragonesses,” Felistia hissed warningly as she stepped between the Sea Talon and Emerald, “Please don’t start this again.”
“But,” Shiraku started, but stopped, a murderous scowl on her face, “Fine, but she started it.”
She flicked her webbed tail at Emerald, before resuming wetting her talons.
Emerald hissed quietly, but didn’t say anything as she curled her dappled green and purple tail over her talons.
“Sorry about that,” Felistia sighed, turning to face Zoltar again, “I guess we’re getting a little tired of being stuck in this room together.”
Emerald nodded from the middle windowsill. Shiraku didn’t respond, but her ears did prick up.
Zoltar huffed. He hadn’t thought about how claustrophobic it must get after a while of being stuck in here. Felistia had only been locked up a few days, but Shiraku and Emerald had been stuck together since he’d been in the Ice Talon Kingdom. No wonder they were starting to grate on each other’s nerves.
“So, is he okay?” Felistia asked, staring intently at him with her deep gold eyes.
Zoltar stared at her for a moment before realizing what she was asking.
“Oh, right,” Zoltar exclaimed, walking over to the bed to sit down. He’d almost forgotten about Shriken, “He’s fine. He made it out without anyone seeing him and was waiting by Viper Rock like he said.”
“That’s good to hear.” Felistia’s wings relaxed and she breathed a deep sigh, “What did he say.”
“He’s trying his best to get together the Wings of Freedom, but…” Zoltar stared at the floor. He’d been dreading telling her this, “Shiler’s declared all-out war on the Wind Talons because of the diamond. Lezeeru’s busy preparing her soldiers for war. They’ll meet the Ice Talon army in less than two days.”
He paused putting a wing over her back, “I’m sorry.”
Felistia’s gaze had darkened and her silver back spines had raised, “Oh.”
“I’m sure Shriken will be fine,” Zoltar said, trying to calm her.
“I know. He’s smart enough to take care of himself,” Felistia said, getting to her paws, “What did Lezeeru say about us?”
Zoltar tried to swallow the large lump building in his throat, “She said that you’d have to stay. She can’t guaranty that she’d have any Ice Talon support without you.”
Felistia nodded grimly, “Thought so. What about you?”
“She said that I, Emerald and Shiraku should try to get out of Wind Talon territory before sundown tonight.”
He took in a shaky breath and looked up to find that Shiraku was now staring at him with an unreadable expression.
Felistia looked miserable as she shuffled her talons on the marble floor.
“I didn’t accept her offer though,” Zoltar continued quickly, “I told her that I’d rather stay and fight with you.”
“But you shouldn’t,” Felistia said quietly, “This isn’t your fight and you have your quest. You’re tribe needs you.”
Zoltar flinched. He’d hoped she wouldn’t bring that up. It was taking everything he had not to accept the Queens offer to escape.
“I couldn’t leave you out here on your own,” Zoltar said, giving her a light head bump, “You helped me get the Diamond, now I’m going to help you.”
Felistia smiled, nuzzling him gently, “You have no idea how much that means to me.”
“Wait a second,” Shiraku suddenly burst out, spraying water all over the room as she stomped over, “If you stay, doesn’t that mean we have to as well?”
Zoltar glanced up at the Sea Talon and then at Emerald. She also had a questioning look on her snout.
“Well, no. Not really. The Queen has given you permission to leave if you wish. Just because I’m staying doesn’t mean you have to if you want to go.”
“Good,” Shiraku snorted, “Because I’m not fighting some strange tribe’s war for them. I’ve got enough problems of my own.”
Zoltar turned to Emerald. Her scales were flashing white, gold and red. She turned away from his gaze, choosing to stare out the window.
Zoltar creased his snout as guilt gripped his chest. How must she feel knowing that he might not return from this battle? She was in a strange land without her tribe and he was the only one she trusted. Now he was essentially abandoning her... again.
Maybe this was a bad idea. He was betraying his tribe to help another one and was putting his friends in danger.
He couldn’t help Felistia now, but should he put Emerald’s and his life on the line to help her in a war that wasn’t even his?
Just then, the click of a key turning in the doors lock caught his attention.